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Virginia Tech football: 54 days til kickoff with a look back at Andrew Motuapuaka

Motuapuaka was a three-year starter for Bud Foster.

Duke v Virginia Tech
Andrew Motuapuaka carries the lunch pail in 2017 game against Duke.
Photo by Michael Shroyer/Getty Images

Today is July 8, 2019, which means we are officially just 54 days away from the Virginia Tech Hokies opening the college football season at Boston College. The last two days we profiled a couple of all-time defensive ends for the Hokies in Corey Moore and Darryl Tapp. Today, we’ll look at No. 54, Andrew Motuapuaka, who played inside linebacker for the Hokies.

Motuapuaka arrived at Virginia Tech via Salem High School in Virginia Beach, also the alma mater of Bucky Hodges. A three-star recruit, Motuapuaka redshirted in 2013.

As a redshirt freshman in 2014, Motuapuaka would play in 12 games, making three starts. He would earn the trust of defensive coordinator Bud Foster during the 2014 season because he was an intelligent player who stuck to his assignments and brought physicality to the inside linebacker position. He would also make an impact on special teams that season and finished with 54 tackles, including four for loss and two sacks during his initial campaign.

In 2015, Motuapuaka would force his way into the starting lineup. He would play in 11 games, starting every game. He was on the field for over 700 plays and still participated on special teams, too. He would finish that season with 73 tackles, including 11.5 for loss and four sacks. He missed two early-season games against Purdue and East Carolina due to a knee injury.

Motuapuaka would start all 14 games in 2016. He would find himself on either the second-team or third-team All-ACC in various publications after finishing the season with 114 tackles, 5.5 for loss, two sacks, three interceptions, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Motuapuaka would have numerous double-digit tackle performances, including 15 against Tennessee.

In his senior season of 2017, Motuapuaka would start all 13 games for the Hokies. He had 92 tackles, 11.5 for loss, 3.5 sacks, one interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He would be named to the third-team All-ACC squad at the conclusion of the 2017 season.

At the conclusion of his career with the Hokies, Motuapuaka would go undrafted in 2017 NFL Draft. However, he would sign as a priority free agent with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Unfortunately, he was released at the conclusion of training camp and he didn’t see any action in 2018. He would sign with the Atlanta Legends of Alliance of American Football (AAF) later in 2018.

Motuapuaka’s time in Blacksburg was often underappreciated by many. Always a solid player, Motuapuaka had his ups and downs, but was mostly a solid three-year starter for Foster’s defense. Hopefully, Hokie Nation can now look back at his time with Virginia Tech and appreciate how hard he played on every snap and the number of impact plays he made.